Margaret Feurer Plass
Margaret Feurer Plass (1896–1990) studied Classics and History of Art at Bryn Mawr College, where she was a member of the Class of 1917. She transferred out after two years, taking classes at the University of Pennsylvania and becoming a Main Line debuntante. In 1918, Plass enlisted in the Naval Reserve, where she met her husband Webster Plass (1895-1952). The couple frequently traveled, collecting objects from Africa, Asia, and South America. Their collection became so extensive that a visit to the couple’s London apartment meant a museum-like tour. After Webster’s sudden death in 1952, Margaret donated their collection (over 600 objects) to the British Museum in his name. Margaret continued collecting, curating, writing, and lecturing about Africa and African Art until her death in 1990. She gifted her papers and part of her final collection to Bryn Mawr College. While Margaret gave 40 objects, including masks, jewelry, terracotta figures, and bronze pendants, to the Art & Artifacts collection, her most significant contribution may be the Margaret Plass Papers to the College Archives. These archives provide an extensive record of her travels, her lectures, her donations to various institutions, her research of Ashanti goldweights, and her personal and professional correspondences. The Plass Papers make clear Margaret’s love of collecting and anthropology, even as they might complicate her motives and contextualize her outdated racialized beliefs. Overall, her twofold donation to the College reflects Margaret’s deep interest in sharing her knowledge with others — whether it be through a visit to her apartment, a carefully planned exhibition, or a donation to her alma mater.